Albany JCC reacts to arrest made in national threats to Jewish institutions

Although the arrest wasn’t in connection to the Albany JCC, local officials said it sends a message.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – An arrest has been made in connection to at least eight bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the country.

In January, the Albany Jewish Community Center fell victim to bomb threats twice. Although Friday’s arrest wasn’t in connection to the Albany JCC, officials said it sends a message.

“That day, I was scared,” Albany JCC member Kim Gallagher said. “I was definitely scared going to my car. I mean, I felt safe inside, but when I was leaving, I felt unsafe.”

Less than two weeks after the initial threat, the center received another one. Police said both calls were hoaxes.

“There is a preschool here and lots of little kids, and they are inconvenienced by it,” Gallagher said.

The bomb threats in Albany are among more than 100 made against JCCs and other Jewish institutions across the United States in the past two months.

Now, federal officials arrested 31-year-old Juan Thompson Friday in connection to at least eight of them as well as a bomb threat to the Anti-Defamation League. A former journalist from St. Louis, Thompson allegedly made the threats to harass an ex-girlfriend.

While he hasn’t been accused of making the threats in Albany, Albany JCC Dir. of Fitness and Membership Tom Wachunas said the arrest is progress.

“We’re happy that any arrest was made in any case like this where people are making threats that involve hatred or anti-Semitism,” he said.

However, he believes other people are involved.

“There is more to be done at this point, obviously,” he said.

Gallahger also welcomed the news of Thompson’s arrest.

“I’m glad that somebody was arrested, and it’s a start in the right direction,” she said.

Authorities continue to investigate the threats made to the Albany JCC and the dozens of others across the country.

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